There is little in this world for which I have more ambivalent feelings towards, than co-sleeping. Co-sleeping can be so annoying but, you know, co-sleeping can also be really damn amazing. You get so much more sleep, and then you get none of the sleep ever. I loved every second of it, until I didn't and abolished the family bed with reckless abandon and little remorse. But, now that both of my kids are sleeping in their own beds, one or both of my kids still wind up snuggling with mommy and daddy before they start their day. It's kind of the best and sort of the worst and definitely leaves me with the same thoughts every mom has when co-sleeping.
After ranting and railing against co-sleeping for years (before I actually had children), I decided pretty early on in my motherhood career that co-sleeping was right for me and my family. Since then, I've written quite a few articles in favor of co-sleeping, pointing to its role in facilitating breastfeeding, to the relative safety of bed sharing. That doesn't, however, mean that I don't get or am willing to understand why other people really, really want nothing to do with this "hippie nonsense" they call co-sleeping.
In fact, I think many if not most co-sleeping moms will concede that there are a few too many uncharitable thoughts about the practice that unapologetically mix with our positive experiences, for instance:
"Kid, There's About 3 Feet Of Open Space Right Next To You. Go There."
I'll admit there's a degree of bitterness present when I have a four year old and a two year old literally draped over me while my husband sleeps, soundly and unfettered, an arm's length away. Kids aren't like liquid, which will assume the shape of any container it's put in: they cluster. They're like little mommy magnets.
"How Is That Noise Coming From This Child?"
Sleeping children make the weirdest noises. Snores, nose whistles, burps, farts, talking in sleep, tummy rumbles: it's all on the table. I have often sat in bed, staring at my babies, wondering how these great big sounds are being produced by tiny little bodies.
"I Guess I Can Squeeze In Here Or, Um, Maybe I'll Sleep At The Foot Of The Bed?"
Because as annoying as it is to sleep on approximately four inches of space with an arm flung behind you at an angle you thought could only be achieved in photoshop, it's even more annoying to wake up your kid by moving them. I'd rather fit my body on the tiniest part of the bed than spend the next hour trying to get my kid back to sleep.
"My Baby So Tiny And Adorable!"
It's so incredibly satisfying to curl around your sweet, tiny child (of pretty much any age), feel their warm breath on your cheek and the soft fuzz of their hair as you drift towards unconsciousness. You cannot believe this itty bitty mini human is yours; the idea is simultaneously a novelty and deeply, emotionally satisfying.
"Is That A Foot Or An Elbow In My Face?"
You seriously begin to consider sending your child to be raised by Cirque du Soleil, because they obviously have a natural talent for bending themselves into heretofore unimagined positions that would be oh-so impressive if they weren't also oh-so uncomfortable.
"My Baby Is Enormous And Clumsy, Like A Human Great Dane"
It doesn't matter how old they are, sometimes co-sleeping can make even the teeniest itty bitty seem like a monstrous ogre occupying your much-needed personal space. They somehow manage to stretch out and occupy every possible area of bed.
"My God, This Child's Head Smells Amazing..."
Science really needs to get on bottling that scent, because I'm convinced we could somehow use it to bring about world peace.
"...But What Is That Other Smell?"
Did they pee? Is that poop? Is it just a fart? Are they sweating? Did they spit up? Is this somehow a fart, spit-up, sweat, pee mixture? Guys: there are so many odors that can be emitted from a child at any give time and they don't stop when the kid sleeps. When you co-sleep, you bring those scents into your bed. Hopefully the head-smell can distract you from the others.
"So Glad We Went For The Expensive Crib"
You seriously want to laugh and cry over how much time you spent poring over which crib you should purchase while you were pregnant. Don't even get me started on the bedding that's sitting, basically unused, in a closet somewhere...
"So. Very. Warm."
Co-sleeping babies really earn their keep, especially in the winter. They're like cozy, adorable electric blankets, making up for the fact that your partner has once again hogged all the blankets.
"Maybe We Should Invest In A King-Sized Bed?"
Because for real, folks, this is getting ridiculous. The Queen is just not cutting it anymore.
"This Is Amazing"
It really is. From the cuddles, to the good baby smells, to the fact that you don't have to get up in the middle of the night as much; to the warmth and the sweet bonding moments and seemingly everything in-between: co-sleeping can be one of parenting's simplest, most deeply satisfying pleasures.
"I Think Their Stuffed Animal Is Actually Up My Butt"
How does that thing always wind up just right in my crack? I don't know and, honestly, I don't want to know.
"This Is The Worst"
Whether it's a rogue teddy bear up your butt, a pushy child repeatedly kicking you in their sleep, two allotted inches of space, or weird smells; co-sleeping has its pitfalls, to be sure. Like, kind of a lot of them that usually leads to many of them.
"When Are They Going To Outgrow This?"
For real. Because they can't do this forever, right?
"I Never Want Them To Outgrow This"
But then your child will roll over, open their eyes, sleepily smile at you and sigh "Mommy, I super-duper love you," before rolling back over and going back to sleep and then you're like, "Okay, I guess we can push that deadline back forever." Or, you know, at least for a few more days.